For our second group project, we had to give a short talk on the work and practice of French artist Caroline Achaintre. Achaintre lives and works in London, and is known for her works in ceramic, watercolour and perhaps most notably her tufting works, which explore the diversity of materiality. Her influences range from science fiction, to German Expressionism to Primitivism, and her innovative works of display are characteristic of her practice.
We decided to split the presentation into four categories, an artists biography, her use of materials, the themes that run throughout her practice and the influences that shape her work. I decided to research ‘influences’, and found this particularly interesting as Achaintre has a wide variety of visual queues from which she takes inspiration.
Here are some of the most interesting facts I found out about Achaintre’s influences and how she uses them in her practice:
- Achaintre is inspired by the notion and aesthetic of primitivism, and researches ethnographic collections. She is interested in the clash between cultures featured in public collections, and our societal perceptions of ‘the exotic’.
- She is also interested in Shamanism and the history and theatricality of masks. She sees masks as a sort of relic of a shifting identity, or an identity just once passed, and uses the forms and aesthetic codes of mask making as a prominent part of her work, as she is curious about the state where reality and fantasy coexist.
- Another theatrical inspiration, Achaintre is inspired by the fashions and traditions of historic European carnivals. The costumes she take most inspiration from are often absurd combinations of man and animal, and the strange amalgamations of various natural forms can be seen through her work.
- Her methods of display have been influenced by the rudimentary dynamics of Tetris pieces, a mix of the traditional, the new and the virtual. The clean lines of these forms of display contrast against the uneven textures of her clay works.
- The art movements she is most inspired by are German Expressionism and British Sculpture; both are movements known for there aesthetics of conveying the dismay and devastating effects on a wartime generation. She relates to the portrayal of angst and the direct nature of German Expressionism, looking particularly to the work of Emil Nolde and his lino cuts.
- In her youth, she was influenced by heavy metal bands like Slipknot, and the culture that surrounded these musicians. She was interested in the idea of ‘clowning’, where make up is applied to form a graphic rock image, as one identity and face applied on top of another.
- Her ink drawings are directly inspired by Roschad blots, which are abstract in their form yet also innately figurative as their purpose it to allow meaning to be derived by the viewer.
For the presentation, we created a short powerpoint with pictures of the artists work, as we talked through each of our separate areas of research. I felt the powerpoint presentation worked effectively as we had examples of the work to demonstrate the ideas we had researched in a visual sense. We then showed a short clip of Achaintre’s tufting technique, which I believe the group found very interesting, as it is a more uncommon skill which requires a lot of patience and instinct as an artist.